Greaser's Passing: "Chico" Ryan Dead

Sha Na Na's "Chico" Ryan dead at 50

July 30, 1998 12:00 AM ET

He sang and played bass in one of the most popular novelty acts this side ofthe Village People. He was an international television star, and looked swellin a black motorcycle jacket and slicked-back hair. He was David Allen "Chico"Ryan of the retro-rock act Sha Na Na, and he passed away Sunday, July 26, inBoston of undisclosed causes. He was fifty years-old.

Ryan joined the group in 1973, four years too late for their gig at theoriginal Woodstock, but in plenty of time for their 1977-1981 hit televisionseries and appearance in 1978's Grease. Prior to joining the Na, Ryanwas a member of New Jersey's the Happenings, who had two Top 10 hits to theirname: "See You in September" in 1966 and "I Got Rhythm" in 1967.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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